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Faith And Racism: Where Is The Love?

Author: Allegra Mutanda

Picture: Allegra Mutanda

Faith And Racism: Where Is The Love?

After George Floyd's death, and the worldwide response against racism, Allegra Mutanda highlights the sin of racism-and Jesus' call to love unconditionally. 

‘The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light.’  Ephesians 5: 12-14

On 25 May 2020, the world shook in horror as George Floyd, a black man, was brutally held down by a white police officer pressing his knee into the man’s neck. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds of agony passed, during which George repeatedly pleaded “I can’t breathe”, to no avail. Later that day, George died and one of the many faces of evil was uncovered for the whole world to see. Its name? Racism.

Was this an isolated hateful crime? I wish it was. As a black African woman living in the West, and for countless other black people, this sight was, sadly, too familiar.

How much more suffering can a nation endure because of the colour of their skin? When is enough enough?

Racism A Deep-Rooted Evil

Racism is a deep-rooted evil which has been ingrained in society for 400 years, despite the abolition of slavery in the 1800s and the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Over the years, and perhaps more worryingly, we see it ‘camouflaged’ under the appearance of prejudice and discrimination (i.e. treating black people as a subservient class of society, despite hard work, success or achievements), derogatory attitudes and behaviour, injustice and even bullying or fun. Racism affects all sectors of society, including the Church (‘monkey’ slurs at a black Parish Priest, with human faeces left at his front door by some parishioners.)

It would be absolutely untrue, inaccurate and offensive to say that every white person is racist. What has been encouraging to see these past weeks is all ethnic groups standing united in this fight against racism. Yet, when such evil and sin is so deeply ingrained in the norms of a society, it would also be very naïve and foolish of us to assume that everyone has escaped its grip or influence. 

So what do we do?

All Are Created In God's Image And Likeness

The Church teaches us that life is sacred and that every human life matters, irrespective of its ethnicity.  We receive life from God and are created in His image and likeness:

‘Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1934)

Racism defiles this image of God, and strips another human being of their dignity as a redeemed and beloved child of God.

The only way to eradicate this evil is to acknowledge its existence and challenge it. A friend who has suffered racial abuse, shared her struggles with me and that she was praying not to hate back. I have also been subject to racial discrimination and bullying, yet I was deeply aggrieved by her feelings.

Jesus Commands Us To Love Unconditionally

Whatever we might endure, we must never allow ourselves to hate back. Violence and retaliation are not the solution and can only engender more hate. 

Jesus’ command to love applies to all  of us, irrespective of race- otherwise we fall in the same trap i.e. denying another person their dignity as a beloved child of God, made in His image.

So where is the love?

The love starts with me; the love starts with you because God first loved us. ‘Love one another just as I [Jesus] have loved you’ (John 13:34).

This radical commandment of love will transform us and society, if we choose to obey it.

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